“I am glad you have begun the Christian Science mission with faith that you can open the prison doors and set the captive free. God will bless us in this way of his appointing.” — Mary Baker Eddy in a letter to Irving C.Tomlinson
Click here to download and read the fascinating history of Mary Baker Eddy’s personal relationship to the criminal justice systems of her day. She was an active supporter of bringing Christian Science into prisons. Here are some excerpts from a well-researched booklet produced by David E. Coughtry for the Christian Science Committee for Institutional Service in the State of New York.
On June 3rd, 1895, an address written by Mrs. Eddy was read to the Alumni of the Massachusetts Metaphysical College. They learned that in 1882 their Leader had entered the Washington, D.C. prison cell of President Garfield’s assassin, where with a few words from her to the assassin, Christian Science crossed swords with moral idiocy. “He had no sense of his crime; but regarded his act as one of simple justice, and himself as the victim. My few words touched him; he sank back in his chair, limp and pale; his flippancy had fled. The jailer thanked me, and said, ‘Other visitors have brought to him bouquets, but you have brought what will do him good.'”
“…Mrs. Eddy’s practical piety was manifest in her active interest in the welfare of those confined to prison. One of her early talks with the writer after his arrival in Concord concerned the unfortunates in the county jails and state prison. At her earnest request the writer visited Sheriff Edgerly of the county and made the proposition to hold on each Sunday at two o’clock in the afternoon in the Merrimac County jail a Christian Science service for the prisoners. The Sheriff welcomed the plan….That the pris- oners might have help in putting off the ‘old man’ she pre- sented them with two copies of Science and Health which were immediately put to good use. 41
“…these services were held as long as I was First Reader which was seven years. We went out in the after- noon and held the service just like the Sunday morning service. Then during the week I would see the prisoners if they asked for help…I may say that Mrs. Eddy was much interested in the work with prisoners, and always enjoyed reading letters on the subject and frequently sent them down to headquarters to have them appear in our periodicals.”
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More reading about Mary Baker Eddy and Prison Reform
More info about Mary Baker Eddy’s Interest in Institutional Work